Had a bad day? Don’t reach for that tub of Ben & Jerry’s just yet. Did you know that what you eat can control your mood? The food you eat can have a great impact on how you feel. Some popular choices of comfort food are ice cream, chocolate and candy. These junk foods seem to provide a momentary bliss as we forget all our problems and why we were even upset. However, they are also very unhealthy choices, possibly worsening your health, which eventually worsens your mood.
Are there healthy, happy foods out there? Of course there are! We introduce 5 of our favourite natural anti-depressants.
Bananas contain a type of protein called tryptophan, which the body later converts into serotonin upon digestion. Serotonin is a hormone that makes us cheerful. This same natural chemical is also found in Prozac, an anti-depressant. Bananas are also rich in potassium, a mineral crucial for nerve function. Bananas are also known to contain the three natural sugars; glucose, sucrose and fructose. Along with fibres and carbohydrates, it definitely gives us energy and that extra boost to start the day. Studies show that people suffering from depression actually feel happier after eating a banana!
Pasta, or rather, any type of carbohydrate, can increase your serotonin levels. No such thing as low-carb diets! Those can actually make you feel gloomy – say hello to rice, bread, and noodles instead. Carbohydrates are a great source of protein, and protein contains amino acids that produce endorphins. It has been shown that a lack of protein in a diet can cause depressed moods. Some of our comfort foods are a big plate of spaghetti or some macaroni and cheese. You may choose to opt for healthier options such as pasta made from wholemeal flour, brown rice or wheat bread. These are some examples of good carbohydrates that fill us up while releasing energy slowly.
Salmon is known for being rich in omega-3s, a fatty acid that is both healthy and proven to boost moods. High doses of omega-3 may even be used to treat clinical depression. Other fish you may want to try that are high in these vitamins are Mackerel and Sardines. Most fish are packed with vitamin B6 and B12, which are involved with the happy hormone, serotonin. Alternatively, for non-fish lovers, you can opt for Omega-3 supplements. Not only will it make you happier, they are great for the heart and brain as well!
4 Greek Yoghurt
Greek yoghurt has twice as much protein as normal yoghurt. It also has large amounts of calcium, even more than milk! A good dose of yoghurt can give you the right calcium levels, eventually signalling the brain to release happiness-inducing neurotransmitters. “Disturbances in calcium levels can produce anxiety, depression, irritability, impaired memory and slow thinking,” says Dr. Ramsey in The Happiness Diet. If you find yourself unhappy or agitated for no apparent reason, try a cup of organic Greek yoghurt!
Popeye’s favourite vegetable might now be yours too! Spinach is packed with folic acid, an important vitamin for making serotonin. Not only does this food make you feel good, it also is amazingly healthy and will help nourish your brain and increase your energy level. It is filled with antioxidants and this prevents the brain cells from dying, leading to more brain power and better memory! This leafy vegetable is rich in iron too, so you will be able to get the nutrients you need – and lift your spirits at the same time!